It was an enduring second South African Rotax MAX Challenge Karting Championship round for the Toyota Gazoo Racing Junior Academy (TGRJA) this past weekend, with KC Ensor-Smith taking the team’s sole victory at the Formula-K Kart Circuit, Benoni.
Entering the weekend as a championship contender, Reagile Mailula had a challenging time in the Mini MAX class. Friday’s qualifying session saw him secure a front-row start for the first of Saturday’s three heats. After contesting the race win, Mailula crossed the line in third place. However, a post-race penalty for a technical infringement excluded him from the race. This saw him starting the second heat from the back, from where he quickly worked his way up to the multi-kart battle for the lead.
Negotiating the last corner on Lap 5, he was involved in an incident that dropped him to 10th in the running, where he finished the race. The clean air, however, saw him set the fastest lap of the race, securing a pole position start for the final heat. Points leader Caleb Odendaal got into an early lead, but Mailula kept him honest throughout and crossed the line as runner-up. The Heat 1 exclusion saw Mailula classified 12th for Round 2.
Emma-Rose Dowling, who progressed to the Mini MAX class in 2023, had to settle for midfield results but delivered a competitive performance. After starting the day from 10th on the grid, Dowling had a steady first race, where she crossed the line in seventh place. However, the disqualification of Mailula and another competitor saw her move up two positions. The second heat saw her trailing the leading pack, but she had to fend off Franco Gibhard en-route to sixth place. The day’s final heat saw her again in close contention for the final podium position. While she crossed the line in seventh, she benefitted from a 5-second Nose Cone Infringement Penalty (NCIP) issued to the driver who finished just ahead of her. Dowling’s consistency on the day saw her fifth in the Round 2 classification.
Kent Swartz narrowly missed the overall Junior MAX victory, conceding the victory to Wian Boshoff by a single point. Starting the race day from pole position, he finished as runner-up behind Boshoff after a hotly contested opening heat. In Heat 2, he took an early lead and held Boshoff at bay to win the race. The pair brought up the rear of the lead battle in the day’s final heat, with Swartz narrowly losing the final podium position to Boshoff.
Senior MAX rookie KC Ensor-Smith remained unbeaten at the Formula-K Kart Circuit in 2023. After securing pole position, the Witbank resident claimed a hat trick of wins to claim the team’s only winner’s trophy. The reigning national Junior MAX Champion also recorded three fastest laps to extend his lead in the national championship.
Olerato Sekudu’s consistency throughout the day saw him finish as runner-up behind Ensor-Smith, despite only bagging one podium finish in Round 2. After qualifying, he completed an all-TGRJA front-row and crossed the Heat 1 finish line in second place, but a five-second NCIP saw him relegated to fourth position. In Heat 2, he again followed his teammate over the finish line. The final heat saw him finish fourth after a good tussle for the runner-up position.
Despite being a front contender throughout, Kian Grottis had a difficult day in the DD2 class. Qualifying in third place, he trailed Brad Liebenberg over the line following a fierce Heat 1 tussle. In the second heat, he beat Sebastian Boyd to win the race. In Heat 3, he again finished as runner-up, but a post-race disqualification saw him finish Round 2 in eighth place.
The next outing for the team will be Round 2 of the Rand Kart Club Championship at Zwartkops Raceway on 13 May, before the same venue will host Round 4 of the MSA Northern Regions Rotax Karting Championship on 10 June. The third national round of 2023 is scheduled for Killarney International Raceway on 30 June to 1 July.
Published by: Motorsport Fanatix
Picture Caption: KC Ensor-Smith
MSA Publishes media releases from a host of different sources on our website as a service to the sport. It is not practically possible to vet/approve every release that is published. Some news items and articles are written by correspondents and do not necessarily represent MSA’s views.